Bookshop Owner


…occurs in both sexes. Driven out of populous areas by larger, more aggressive types, the remaining few Bookshop Owners survive in nooks and crannies.

Cyril Trumpet was the last scion of the family Trumpet, owners and runners of Trumpet & Son Publishing Bookshop since 1879. They hadn’t published a book since the ‘Trumpet’s Care and Maintenance’ series, marvellous little books brought out with brilliant timing in the 1960s and 70s. They told you everything you needed to know about looking after mechanical typewriters, wooden tennis racquets, slide rules, comptometers, 78rpm records and washing machines with hand-operated wringers.

Cyril was a kindly soul with old-fashioned beliefs. He took an interest in all his customers and thought it his job to find what they wanted or, if he could not find it, to get it at whatever inconvenience to himself. He listened to what the publishers’ sales reps said when they called to tell him about new books, and was available to meet them when he said he would be.

He looked at books for quality and originality and never allowed his own private views to interfere with his selections. So, even if he had been a bluestocking PC feminist manhater, he would still have had books in his shop with sexy pictures of females on the cover, if he thought they were good and would sell.

Similarly, even if Cyril had been a young gentleman graduate in 19th century Canadian Literature, with an MA in The Trials of Oscar Wilde and a deep bitterness at being a failed poet, he would still have been polite to anyone who came in his bookshop.

Cyril liked books because they are books. He liked good ideas and elegant style. He liked variety and thought that five different titles about quilting were quite enough, refusing to stock the other 128.

Unfortunately, Cyril could not work a computer and did not understand how the big stores could offer best-selling titles at a retail price lower than he had to pay wholesale. He did not understand The Market. He, foolishly, thought that the market was the people who had stalls on the square every Tuesday.

Poor Cyril. He sold his shop three years ago. It’s been Age Concern, Oxfam and British Heart Foundation. Now it’s going to be a pizza take-away.


Words by that impeccable but grumpy wordsmith, Gordon Thorburn.

One comment

  1. I have known a few Cyrils in my time, and you are spot on (the quilting books! LOL). I would add: Cyril never needs a computer to check his stock because any book you ask for, no matter how obscure, he would find for you right way even if it resided in a wonky pile on the floor beside an over-full bookcase!

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